England refuse to follow France's lead to stop picking available overseas players
ENGLAND have rejected calls to follow France’s lead and stop picking overseas players who only qualify through residency.
22:00, Wed, Jan 18, 2017
RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie has stopped short of embracing the tough stance of French Federation boss Bernard Laporte but instead given Twickenham’s backing to a proposal to extend the qualification period for adopted players from three to five years.
“Would you disadvantage yourself from the current three-year rule?” said Ritchie. “What Bernard does with France is a matter for him but our view will be that a five-year qualification is the optimum position to be in.
“We commit from a position, as do the French, of a large playing base so some people will say we can afford to be hard line on this particular issue.
“If you have a small playing base and you don’t have highly competitive international players, then I could well understand why somebody would like it to be less than that but our position will be the five years.
Ian Ritchie won't change England's stance on overseas players
England face France on February 4
“We’ll see how that debate goes. If it stays at three then we’d have to think again and review it.”
Laporte’s directive is not retrospective so the likes of New Zealand-born prop Uini Atonio, South Africa-born full-back Scott Spedding and Fiji-born wings Noa Nakaitaci and Virimi Vakatawa were named in France’s 32-man squad for the Six Nations yesterday but future call-ups will require a French passport.
France coach Guy Noves, whose side face England at Twickenham on February 4, chose the uncapped full-back Geoffrey Palis, back row Fabien Sanconnie, lock Arthur Iturria and prop Mohamed Boughanmi in his squad, along with Toulouse centre Yann David, who won his last cap eight years ago.
Northampton No 8 Louis Picamoles was also included but there was no place for Leicester-bound Maxime Mermoz or Mathieu Bastareaud.
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French Federation boss Bernard Laporte has brought in a tough stance on overseas players
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Scotland, one of the most enthusiastic proponents on so-called project players, yesterday called up Cornell du Preez, a South African back row who has qualified on residency after three years at Edinburgh, to their Six Nations squad.
The 25-year-old joins Edinburgh’s Kiwi prop Simon Berghan – who does have Scottish blood via a grandfather from Stirling – as the new faces in Vern Cotter’s 37-man squad.
There is a recall for Gloucester centre Matt Scott, who is one of five Premiership players named along with Sean Maitland and Duncan Taylor from Saracens, Harlequins’ Tim Visser and Newcastle’s Jon Welsh.
Englishman Ben Ryan, who coached Fiji to gold at the Olympic sevens, has joined the WRU on a consultancy basis to work with Wales’s age group, sevens and women’s teams.
Toulon’s strength and conditioning coach Paul Stridgeon, Rhodri Bown, Wales’s head analyst, and Ireland’s Eanna Falvey, head of medical, have been added to Warren Gatland’s Lions management team for the summer tour to New Zealand.
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